A writing sample is an optional document in job applications, typically requested for jobs involving significant amounts of writing, such as journalism, marketing, PR, and research. Writing samples are frequently requested when applying to jobs with an intense writing workload, or jobs in which writing is a key component of your duties, such as communications, marketing, public relations, journalism or research. Writing samples are usually submitted with the job application, or soon thereafter, if an employer is interested in the applicant based on the resume.
If you are applying to work as a writer, an employer is likely to require that you send in writing samples. Typically, instructions on how to submit your writing sample are included with a job advertisement or provided by the employer. When a prospective employer asks for a writing sample as part of your job application, use it to show them what you can do. Even if the employer has not requested a sample, you may want to bring it with you to your interview, or put samples up on their site.
If an employer has not specified, send a sample closely related to the topic or role. If that is the case, writing a new sample is okay with the employer. If the sample leaves out sections from a complete memo or summary, you should offer to give the employer a complete draft.
Pay close attention to the employers instructions regarding a writing sample, research the company for clues about tone and style, and thoroughly proofread your document to check for errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Make sure that the writing is the best you can produce, and get it checked for content, spelling, grammar before you send it; thoroughly proofread your samples. Proofread your paper to prevent mistakes or typos, and also ask another person to revise your sample. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are spot on when applying to jobs that will be judging your writing skills.
Employers, for many professional jobs, put high importance on writing skills when they are screening applicants. For instance, applicants to a newsroom job generally must have maintained a professional tone of writing. While a firms particular writing style may be learned through work, employers may want to hire someone who has some writing skills at the first day.
Research an employer to learn what types of content they publish regularly, and why they need the writing skills. Submitting a sample of content that is similar to the type of content you would write about in your role would help employers connect your writing skills directly with the position. Try to match your sample with the type of writing you will do on the job. When choosing your sample, think about the style of writing you will use at your job.
In this case, you will want to pick the most appropriate example from your writing portfolio to present your writing. Make sure that your samples are relevant to the types of writing that a job would entail.
Not every job application is going to ask for a one-of-a-kind writing sample, sometimes they simply want to see your past work. You will frequently see writing samples that have definite writing requirements, formatting, and topics that are tailored for a job application. Employers request writing samples when jobs are highly dependent on writing, or documents such as case notes, assessments, or reports are required.
For the most part, you will see requests for Writing samples in jobs that you will write frequently, like writing blogs, news, interning, PR, or research positions. While some employers may assign a writing assignment with a specific prompt, others may just ask for you to submit a sample of your past work. While some employers may require you to e-mail or download a writing sample as part of your application, others may require you to bring it with you to the interview, or perhaps email it after the interview, in order to help the employer decide.
For almost every other employer who is not media-related–these include think tanks, law firms hiring paralegals, nonprofits, and research centers, among many others–what they are looking for when asking for a writing sample is a thesis, or other document written by you, that is 3-5 pages, with a double-spaced format, highlighting your ability to analyze ideas and materials, and showing off your writing skills. Prospective employers will frequently ask for a writing sample in order to evaluate your ability to produce well-written, bug-free content for their company. To make sure candidates possess the skills needed, it is not unusual for hiring managers to ask for a writing sample, as well as a resume or cover letter, during the initial screening process for candidates. You want this to demonstrate to prospects that you are capable of drafting complex ideas, and, in turn, prospects or employers will use a writing sample to make sure that the person they are hiring to write content is well-versed in the subject matter in his/her industry.
Most employers will not read beyond 10 pages or so to gauge how good you are at writing, and some employers will put a page limit on the samples. Often, employers will give you a certain number of pages or words that they want in the sample. If you choose to use a document or essay longer than the allotted length by your employer (or 1 to 2 pages), then supplying an excerpt is fine as long as your sample is not overly long.
For the busy employer reading through dozens of samples, the easiest and fastest way to cut down on your slate is to reject applicants whose writing samples have errors in grammar, syntax, punctuation, or quotation marks.
Employers are looking for the tone, voice, grammar, and style of the writing in your samples. In todays highly competitive labor market, candidates–even those applying to positions that do not involve much writing–may need to provide writing samples. If you are applying to a writing position at a grant, the samples must be professional, and use formal language.